What if the dealer sells you a junker “AS IS”?

It happens all too often. It’s one of the most frequent complaints CARS gets.  Consumers buy used cars that break down right away. Some don’t even make it home.

For instance — an 18-year-old high school graduate in Davis, CA bought his first car from a dealer in Roseville. He asked the salesman about its history and condition. The salesman repeatedly assured him it was in good working condition. He needed a car so he could start a new job and attend college in Sacramento. He agreed to pay the dealer about $5000. But when he tried to drive his newly purchased car home that night, the headlights stopped working about 5 miles from the dealership.  Then the car stalled –while he was driving on the freeway, in traffic. He managed to get it to the side of the road. Then it wouldn’t re-start. He was stranded there, with trucks and other vehicles whizzing by, until his mother got out of work and gave him a ride home.

The next day, he called the dealer and tried to get a refund. The dealer refused, pointing out the car was sold “AS IS. He had the car towed to an auto repair shop. There, the service manager told him that it was plagued by many expensive problems, and would need a new engine simply to be driveable. He couldn’t afford to pay for the repairs, and keep making the payments, to avoid having a repossession on his record. He eventually donated the car to a charity, and instead of going to college, joined the Marines.

But according to some legal experts, he may have been able to get a complete refund if he had sued the dealer in small claims court. While the car was sold “AS IS,” he might have been able to prove that the dealer knew or should have known the car was seriously defective, and concealed that information from him.

Faced with similar situations, some consumers have sued shady dealers in small claims court, and been awarded complete refunds, or reimbursements for repairs.

If you have sued an unscrupulous dealer in small claims court, and won, CARS would like to hear from you, and share information about how you did it with other consumers. How did you overcome the dealer’s claim that the car was sold “AS IS”? Did you find an expert who was willing to testify on your behalf? How did you prepare for the trial? How long did it take? We’d love to hear from you!

Yes, I won! Contact CARS